Sunday, 16 June 2013

Step OFF!

After being in the city for two whole weeks cabin fever is setting in HARD.  I need out, and I need out now.  The weather is looking pretty good this Father's Day weekend, and it's time to head back out into the forest. 

Cal Cheak has changed over the winter.  It looks like a logging company had a field day.  There's no way that they can justify this kind of destruction as being for safety purposes, but the signs try to pass it off as such.  What a load of bull.  Thankfully the mosquitos haven't gone anywhere, and it is still far away from the horrible, horrible, city.

Saturday dawns, and a very exhausted pair prepare to head to Cheakamous in search of some awesomeness.  It's a little bit of a late start, not feeling a lot of motivation, and we decide to head a little off of the beaten path in order to possibly avoid some traffic. 

We had climbed at The Crest once before, and it was good, so we slogged up the hill and into the trees, quickly locating a likely 5.9 to try and get going on.

'Step Off' was one of the climbs on the lower tier of the crag, so we were ready to go quickly.  An obvious crack is the obvious start, but there really isn't much in the way of foot support available.  My fingers have got some nasty cracks in the joints right now, so this might not be the best way to start the weekend. 

It's good, but it hurts.  I work my shuffle my hands up the crack a few times to gain the first bolt, and am able to reach up and over left to a good hold on a ledge.  Mostly dangling off my left hand, I match hands quickly and throw my left leg up and onto the ledge while reaching my left hand way back on the ledge, hoping to find something to grab...

Luckily, something is actually there, and it is another, much friendlier, crack for my throbbing fingers to stab in to. Safely to the ledge, I make the second quickdraw and begin some very careful work on some little edges, moving slowly up a very smooth bulge, the obvious crux of the route.

The feet were pleasant, and getting over the bulge wasn't excessively taxing, although I wasn't feeling like an all-star at this point, and I found that the obvious crux was not, at least for me, the crux at all.  About 3M below the anchor chains, standing comfortably upon a solid outcropping, I was confronted with a very, very, high step, with pretty much nothing visible to grab above.  The angle on the rock wasn't overly steep, and I could almost believe that a bold lunge would allow me to reach an unseen hold that I was hoping would be there, but the first few exploratory moves didn't fill me with confidence, and the feeling of propelling myself off the rock was not the most comforting thing in the world...

Stymied, I kept working to find something excellent, or at least less tenuous, but it just didn't seem in the cards.  A big left foot up, stemming from the right, and trying to steady myself on the nothingness with my arms spread wide, I found myself slowly grinding my hand up the rock, never really finding anything at all, but reaching the chains all the same.

I hate days like this, when nothing feels excellent.  My hands are on fire, my feet are screaming at me, and all I want to do is sit in the shade and relax.  Bah.

Now Heather's eyeing up the rather tall start, pondering how best to approach it.  After many very creative efforts and a fair bit of blood from some of her more... dynamic...  attempts, we decide to call it a day, neither of us really being in the mood to be there.

You win some, you lose some, I guess...  Oh well, way too beautiful a weekend to get too wound up about this!

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